THE Court of Appeals (CA) has exonerated a former commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) who was linked to the alleged anomalous vehicle lease agreements in 2007 and 2009.
In a 17-page decision penned by Associate Justice Jane Aurora Lantion and concurred in by Associate Justices Magdangal De Leon and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela, the CA’s Eight Division granted the petition for review filed by former PCGG Commissioner Nicasio Conti questioning his indictment by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Also charged were then PCGG Chairman Camilo Sabio and Commissioners Ricardo Abcede, Tereso Javier, and Narciso Nario.
“Accordingly, the administrative complaint…filed by the Field Investigation Office-Office of the Ombudsman (FIO-OMB) against [Conti] is dismissed,” the CA ruled.
Records of the case showed that in 2007, the PCGG entered into a lease agreement with United Coconut Planters Bank Leasing and Finance Corporation (UCPB) wherein the former leased five vehicles from the latter for a term of 36 months for P153,821.00.
In 2009, the PCGG leased six other vehicles from UCPB for a term of 36 months for P192,086.00.
The FIO-OMB said no public bidding was held for both lease agreements.
On August 26, 2011, the Ombudsman rendered its decision finding Sabio, et al. guilty of Dishonesty, Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of Service. Conti moved for reconsideration, but was denied until the case reached the appeals court.
In its May 19, 2015 but was released to the media just recently, the CA held that Conti was not given “a fair opportunity to squarely and intelligently answer or refute the accusations against him and present any evidence in support of his defense.”
Conti, it said, only learned that a complaint was filed against him through news reports.
Records disclosed that Conti was no longer connected with the PCGG as early as August 2008.
“Thus, it is quite unclear why the OMB would serve Conti with a copy of the order requiring the filing of a counter-affidavit at the PCGG office on 05 April 2010 when he was no longer working for almost two (2) years,” the appellate court stated.